15th October 2019
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Bereavement support volunteers receive certificates

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The SBSS award ceremony at the Sound Hall on Saturday evening. Back (from left): Anne Johnson, Abigail Thomson, Ellen Hughson (project leader), Elouise Smart, Cheryl Graham, Gwen Farmer, Cally Mair, Christopher Storey, Tracy Jack, Harriet Beats. Front: Kathryn Lomax, Gwen Williamson (lead trainer), Margaret Christison (co-lead trainer), Maggie Sandison (SIC chief executive), Beatrice Wishart (MSP), Laurence Sutherland (trainer) and Donald Anderson (SBSS chairman). Photo: Gordon Siegel

A group of volunteers saw their efforts for the Shetland Bereavement Support Service (SBSS) recognised as they received certificates on Saturday evening.

The event was held at the Sound Hall in Lerwick, where Shetland’s new MSP Beatrice Wishart and Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison were among the speakers.

SBSS is a local charity which receives no statutory funding. Its aim is to “make sure that no-one in Shetland finds themselves alone and struggling with their grief”.

The organisation offer a variety of services, including information, children’s work and one-to-one support. SBSS relies on trained volunteers to deliver its one-to-one service.

Last year SBSS supported 15 students to begin the first step of volunteer training – studying for an accredited Counselling Skills Certificate. The certificate is professionally recognised and validated by Cosca, Scotland’s professional body for counselling and psychotherapy.

On completion the course also provides participants with 40 SCQF credits at SCQF level 8. A Cosca Counselling Skills Certificate is 120 hours of contact learning, comprising of four 30-hour modules, with additional independent study.

This was the first time the course has been delivered in Shetland in this manner. Previously it was delivered by Shetland College. The local delivery by SBSS was made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery, by working closely with Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland and with guidance from Cosca.

SBSS spokeswoman Ellen Hughson said the recruitment and training of new volunteers was essential for the continuation of the organisation’s one-
to-one support service. As demand for support has risen in recent years an increased number of volunteers were required to meet the need in a timely and appropriate manner.

Cosca chief executive Brian Magee said: “The Cosca Counselling Skills Certificate that the students will be awarded is a very powerful
statement that they have the necessary skills to listen effectively to others, and that they have reached this point because they have fully engaged with themselves at a meaningful level.

“Through their training they have been encouraged to look at themselves and to build greater self-awareness so that they can listen with empathy to the sense of loss, distress and bereavement of other people.

“On behalf of Cosca, Scotland’s professional body for counselling and psychotherapists, I would like to congratulate all the students being awarded with the
above certificate, and to thank their trainers for guiding and supporting them towards this great achievement.”

About Jim Tait

Jim Tait is news editor at The Shetland Times.

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